Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Google execs convicted!

In probably one of the more interesting weeks as far as digital America goes, with court cases flying left and right and lobbyists saying open source software is worse than piracy, Italy has blown the lid off in an astounding decision.

For those who may remember, a little while back some kids in Italy started making fun of another child with Down Syndrome, and uploaded a recording of that video to YouTube. Google cooperated voraciously, immediately taking the video down, submitting the video as evidence in the investigation, and helping to find who uploaded the video. Furthermore, the kids in the video were found, tried, and convicted in court. So what's the problem?

Italy's legal system, if you can call it that, now convicted three Google executives of breaking privacy laws. Let's get things straight. The execs could not have known about the video since many hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Furthermore, Italy is not prosecuting Google itself, but the executives directly, all of whom do not even work for Google Italy anymore! This is a blatantly ridiculous accusation.

Reactions to this event are, of course, similar to my own. The post in Google's blog bore the title "Serious threat to the web in Italy", and it's right. Google should pull YouTube out of Italy altogether, though a total removal of Google services might be going a little too far. This is a legitimate consideration, because Google cannot go around Italy being responsible for what their citizens upload. The enormous Internet search and cloud computing technologies corporation has really lived true to it's "Don't be evil" motto, and it being treated like trash in return.

As of now, Google is repealing the ruling, and hopefully Italy will rethink how it's running itself, because Google is the last company I would want to prosecute unfairly, especially in a situation like this. Furthermore, this conviction is a threat to the basic freedoms of the Internet, and if YouTube and other sites start to shut down in many countries to do legal systems like this, the web itself as well know it will cease to exist.

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